To mark the top of the 2010s, we’re celebrating 30 video games that outlined the final 10 years. You’ll find all of the articles as they’re printed within the Video games of the Decade archive, and examine our enthusiastic about it in an editor’s weblog.
On the earth of racing video games, this decade began with a loss of life knell. Within the first months of 2010, two glorious arcade racers have been launched: Weird Creations’ Blur and Break up/Second by Black Rock Studio (previously Climax). They each flopped, miserably, and as a direct consequence each studios have been quickly shuttered. The arcade racer was lifeless.
This loss of life knell was heard notably loud within the UK, the place each these studios have been based mostly and the place racing video games, identical to actual motorsport, run within the blood. That is the land of Undertaking Gotham Racing, of Wipeout, of Burnout. It was a bleak time for that individual growth group. Evolution Studios struggled on, however would not final the last decade. Criterion relinquished Burnout and accepted the life-raft of the Want for Velocity franchise, however quickly even that was gone and it was making autos for Star Wars and Battlefield video games. Codemasters survived due to the System One licence and a tough pivot to the safer floor of sim racing, with its devoted group. However the place was the racing sport for everybody? The racing sport for individuals who do not play racing video games?
By 2012 we had our reply. It got here from most of the identical builders, now gathered at a brand new outfit referred to as Playground Video games. Forza Horizon was a stunning spin-off from Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport sequence that took its stunning, real looking automotive fashions and set them unfastened on an open-world map, with racing occasions organised round a tacky however uplifting music competition theme. Six years and 4 iterations later, the spin-off has change into the principle attraction. Forza Horizon is now the extra in style of the 2 sub-series and considered one of Xbox’s greatest attracts. It’s also, maybe, the primary racing sport sequence because the early days of Gran Turismo to transcend its style. You possibly can take pleasure in it for those who love automotive tradition or for those who love nice video video games – with out having to like each.
Forza Horizon is not strictly an arcade racer, and it is not actually a sim racer both. It has the fierce focus of neither (which isn’t to say the racing expertise is unrefined). However it embraces the fantasies of each. It is Gran Turismo, the place you weigh authenticity by the pound, tweaking tyre stress and suspension torsion within the tuning menu if you would like, feeling the automotive transfer beneath you, obsessing over the realism of the gleaming bodywork. However it’s additionally Out Run, the place you drift perpetually by way of the sunlit vistas of an ideal fantasy highway journey, winding your automotive by way of visitors like a slalom skier. And it is also one thing neither of these video games are, one thing few racing video games have ever been (shout out to Take a look at Drive Limitless and a few the higher Want for Speeds): a world that invitations and rewards exploration. The sequence’ thrilling open-world maps need to be talked about in the identical breath as any of the greats of the final 10 years, from Los Santos to Skyrim, Velen to Hyrule.
You will discover that I have never centered this text on a single sport within the Forza Horizon sequence. Maybe that is dishonest, however the fact is you possibly can take your decide. It is uncommon for a sequence to be so constant, particularly one locked to a biennial schedule. The debut sport nailed the formulation on the first try and was a revelation on Xbox 360, with an attractive Colorado map. The second, set on a hazy Mediterranean coast, was probably the most romantic. The third, which sprawled throughout a gaudy, luscious Australia, was probably the most unique. The fourth felt private, Playground bringing it on dwelling to a splendidly moody evocation of Britain. Over time, the video games acquired climate, seasons, off-roading, weekly and month-to-month updates, better integration with Forza Motosport’s glorious group options – all that great things. However the factor that mattered, the soul, was there in the beginning and has shone undimmed all through.
I like vehicles. I like that I’ve a 1970 Triumph TR6 – just some physique panels’ faraway from my dad’s ’68 TR5 – in my Forza Horizon four storage. I like that it sounds good and that I can drive it by way of the Cotswolds or Edinburgh’s New City.
However the cause Forza Horizon stands out – not simply among the many racing video games of the final 10 years, however among the many very best video video games of the last decade – has nothing to do with vehicles. It’s its relentless and provoking positivity, its generosity of spirit. From its globe-trotting views to its heart-pounding soundtrack, Forza Horizon is all about discovering pleasure, happiness and sweetness wherever you look. This can be a online game about pleasure. What higher legacy than that?